Hearing a soft knock, Claire opened the door of
the small cottage that was her temporary residence in the village, property of
the clinic - kindly lent to her for the duration of her internship.
“You look very smart, Jamie.” She smiled,
noticing his impeccably ironed blue shirt, which made the colour of his eyes even
more striking. He had tried to tame the cowlicks and waves of his hair and was perfectly
shaven – the grooming being slightly impaired by the giant bruise on his cheek,
extending like an oil leak to his lower eyelid, and the redness and swelling on
his lip – as if he had been bitten and forcefully kissed. “Even if you slightly
resemble an oversized Dalmatian.”
He shrugged and smirked.
“Ye look lovely, Sassenach.” His eyes quickly travelled
across the span of her body, clad in a long floral dress, the lightness of the
fabric enhancing her curves. Jamie blushed a little, realizing she had noticed
his overt attentions, but defiantly met her eyes. “I brought ye a wee gift – I’ll
still get ye some popcorn, though.”
With the suspense and skill of a magician,
Jamie produced a small vase in which a couple of small blue flowers nestled
“They are Myosotis,
aren’t they?” Claire exclaimed, delighted, taking the delicate vase on her
hands. “I’ve never seen them quite so blue. Where did you get these?”
“From my home’s garden – Lallybroch, that is. I
did the plant seedlings myself.” He seemed content with her reaction and
somewhat proud. “I thought ye’d like something that ye could keep and watch
growing day by day, more than a bouquet that would dwindle and waste away.”
“Well, you were right.” She inhaled the sweet
and lively scent, the unique perfume of nature’s creation. “They have another
name, don’t they? I think I recall Uncle Lamb calling them something else.”
“Aye.” Jamie’s cat-like eyes smiled in time with
his lips, his voice husky. “Forget-me-nots.”
“Were you afraid that I’d forget you, Jamie?”
Claire asked softly, placing her precious gift on the kitchen table and
grabbing her purse to leave with him.
“I ken I’d have a hard time forgetting ye,
Sassenach.” He gave her a lopsided smile and the tip of his fingertips brushed
against her hand, a caress so heartbreakingly gentle that her heart fluttered
like a trapped moth against an unshielded light. “But it couldna hurt to make
“Are you watching the movie at all?” Claire
asked, biting a crunchy popcorn, saltiness and sweetness flooding the back of
her tongue. She had been following the intricate plot of the movie, an acclaimed
musical candidate to win several coveted awards – they were about to enter the
part where the star crossed lovers realized that their love could never be –
but the feeling of being observed had made her look through the corner of her
eye, only to realize Jamie had been absorbed in contemplating her instead of
“Aye.” He grinned in the half light, his eyes
never leaving the outline of her face. “The lad doesna sing sae bad, but he isn’t
much of a writer. It will end badly for them both.”
Claire raised her brows, impressed by his
accurate remarks. Nonetheless, being so closely inspected was making her uncomfortable
and very self-aware.
“Is there something weird on my face?” She
asked tentatively. Jamie leaned closer to her, his blue eyes intent.
“I was wondering how ye’d look with yer hair
down.” He whispered softly, close to her ear. Claire had decided to trap her
wild curls on an elegant braid for their date – and having met her at the
clinic, when she was wearing her working bun, he hadn’t yet seen her with her
“You can thank your guardian angel that you
haven’t seen me that way.” She snorted. The small and cosy cinema room was
almost empty, but a couple of young girls threw them looks of reproach for disturbing
the gut-wrenching atmosphere. “It might just attack you when you’re not looking.”
She finished in a lower voice.
“Hm.” He casually reached for a handful of
popcorn, only to allow his hand to get closer to hers. “Ye are so different
from all the lassies I knew all my life, Claire.”
“Uppity?” She suggested with apprehension. His
fingers were making circular movements on the back of her hand, until they eventually
entwined, like scattered pieces of a forgotten puzzle coming together. “Strange?”
“Strong.” He said, his face serious. His eyes
fixed on her lips and she couldn’t avoid to subtly lick them, the mere
suggestion of his touch enough to make her thirsty. “Beautiful.”
“You don’t know that much about me yet.” Claire
whispered. The smell of him, so close, was inebriating in the darkness, like
all her senses were sharper, more in tune with him. “You could be wrong.”
“I may not know yer birthday or yer favourite
drink. Which books made ye cry and what position ye sleep in – but I already
know that I would do almost anything to have the chance to find out.” Their
foreheads were almost touching, as he came even closer to her. “I already ken
how ye make me feel, Sassenach.”
Their lips met – not needing any type of
compass in the darkness - the soundtrack of the love story on screen playing just
for them. And as Jamie’s hands found her curls, untangling her hair until it
fell over her shoulders, they could be the only two people in love in the
Edinburgh, Present day
Don’t cry. Breathe.
Claire mechanically reached for his hand and started
to unfold the bandages in silence. Jamie winced and hunched his shoulders, as
if he was surprised – and his eyes were filled with true wonder.
“Ye are real.” He whispered, his eyes following
the steady and calculated movements of her gloved hands. “I…wasn’t sure that ye
“How are you feeling, Mister Fraser?” She asked
in a monotonous tone, like a cold but professional stewardess on a long and
tiresome flight. His eyes widened, the lines of his face a mirror of pain, as
if she had just slapped him without further warning.
“When did I become Mister Fraser?” He said between teeth. “How long have ye been
working here, Sassenach?”
“Don’t call me that!” She demanded in a strong
voice, exhaling. “Not that I owe you any explanations, but I’ve been a surgeon here
for almost three months now.” Claire said. “Can you wiggle your fingers for me?”
“Claire…” He began, his blue eyes imploring. “There
are things I should tell ye…”
“No.” She replied, firmly. “You are a patient
here and I’m bound by my oath to treat you to the best of my abilities. But we
have nothing to say to each other – apart from you answering my questions and I
informing you with truthfulness about your condition.” Anger filled her chest,
like something sticky and dark, making her breathing more laboured.
“I can’t move them just now.” He said, after a
while, in a hoarse voice. The removing of the dressings revealed the terrible
sight of a compromised hand – only his thumb seemed unaffected, while his
middle and ring fingers were crushed into unnatural positions, the joints
shattered. His index finger was broken in at least two places, even if it still
maintained an air of normalcy by comparison. Blood still oozed from deep cuts
on his palm and from the place where the bone had ruptured the skin, like a gruesome
and bloody flower springing from the inside out. “Can ye save it?”
“I’ll certainly try.” She nodded, the lump in
her throat approaching the size of an ostrich egg. Even the best surgeon in the
world wouldn’t be able to rebuild a perfect hand from such wreckage – the best
possible outcome was to save all his fingers and to obtain a range of function
that would allow him to carry ordinary movements with his hand. His hand had been so tender in the darkness
of the cinema. “I need to assess your belly. Is it sore?”
“A wee bit.” Jamie admitted, avoiding her eyes
as she pushed up his shirt, covered in soot and blood, in order to expose him
to her cold hands. Claire touched his flank with light movements, going deeper
in critical places – once she palpated his upper left quadrant he hissed like a
resentful cat and his abdomen went rigid.
“You might have a ruptured spleen.” She bit her
bottom lip, still glancing at his belly.
There, that small spot – she had bit him there, once. She could still hear his throaty
groan, half moaning half laughing.
“We will do an ultrasound, but it’s likely you’ll need surgery today.”
“Will ye do it?” He asked. Jamie was gritting
his teeth – he was on basic painkillers and Claire was sure he was experiencing
some excruciating pain from his damaged hand, acute abdomen and several first
degree burns on his body.
“I’m not sure that is wise.” She said slowly. “I’ll
ask Joe to do it – he is a very gifted surgeon.”
“Will you be there, Claire?” He pleaded in a
low voice, hesitant.
“I will.” Claire hawked. “It’s my team – it’s
my duty to oversee it.” He seemed discouraged and battered, looking at the white
“Are my men alright?” Jamie asked, while she
began to clear some debris from the wound. “Are they safe?”
“They are being taken care of. You should focus
on getting stronger now.” She replied more softly and then, raising her eyes to
meet his – so he could see the emptiness there – added in a neutral tone. “Your
hand is swelling. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to cut your wedding ring out.”
- Có cần em nói cho anh những điều anh cần phải biết không?
Sinh nhật em là ngày 7 tháng 1. Hồi nhỏ em sống ở Hupyong-dong, thành phố Chuncheon. Em chuyển tới Seoul vào năm lớp 6. Cấp 2 em học lớp 16, cấp 3 em học lớp 21, số hiệu sinh viên thời đại học là 019347. Em dị ứng với lông mèo, bụi sách và đào. Cỡ giày của em là 240, nhưng chân phải có chút to hơn.
- Ngày sinh nhật của em đã qua mất rồi. Hôm nào đó hãy cùng tới Chuncheon. Chúng ta sẽ tới nơi em từng sống. Hồi cấp 2 em học lớp 16, cấp 3 học lớp 21, số hiệu sinh viên thời đại học là 019347. Anh cũng không thích đào. Anh thích mèo, nhưng anh sẽ không nuôi. Anh cũng sẽ cẩn thận với bụi sách.